Crappie Masters Draws Spectators And Anglers

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
The Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters National Championship Tournament was held September 26 through 29, at Bucksaw Resort and Marina, in Clinton. Media Day was held on Thursday, September 26, during the pre-fishing part of the tournament. Individual area members of the media were offered an exciting morning of fishing with separate tournament teams. A reporter from the Benton County Enterprise (yours truly) joined the Yamaha team of tough competitors who served as her guides. Jarad and Tommie Roper, from New Jersey and Arkansas, showed her how to fish, and their team ended up winning an award for catching a crappie weighing 1.55 pounds, the heaviest caught during the morning “Fish Off.” The team was especially delighted when they beat competitor John Godwin of Duck Dynasty fame. All three of the Yamaha team members won gift certificates to an online fishing gear store, plus the reporter was given a huge tackle box of beautiful lures.
Media Day started out with thick fog and temperatures in the low 40s. The Ropers, father and son, eased their Polarkraft 195 TXC fishing boat (named Elijah) out on the eerie, misty, Grand Arm of Truman Lake and stopped the engine as they reached an area of tree stumps close to shore. This team dropped their lines in between stumps where fish are known to gather when the water is cold.  Jarad and Tommie caught two fish after about half an hour, but they were thrown back because of their small weight.  The goal of that morning’s Fish Off was to catch up-to-seven crappie. During weigh in, after the four-hour fishing limit, the team with the highest weight of crappie would win bragging rights for the event. After about an hour of trolling, without any more bites, the team sped into the cold, windy, and still foggy lake, to a couple of other spots with tree stumps. The fish did not cooperate again until about the last half hour of the contest. Four more fish were caught, the largest one snagged by Jarad Roper at 10:55, five minutes before the 11 AM deadline. The rest is history.
The Yamaha team has participated in 13 Crappie Masters tournaments this year, beginning in January, and the Ropers were named Sportsmen of the Year by Crappie Masters on Wednesday, September 26. Their title sponsor is Yamaha, and their boat sponsor is Polarkraft. Jarad Roper owns a fishing business named Roper Outdoors that makes jigheads and plastic lures. His company was also a sponsor of their competition in the tournament. 
“Competing in crappie tournaments is a career for us, and it involves a lot of driving, and flying to and from tournaments that are held in different states,” said Jarad Roper. “My dad and I took part in the layout of our fishing boat when it was being built. We have many electronics and wanted to oversee their placement. At the end of the tournament season, we will sell this boat and buy a new one.”
The Ropers were one of 149 teams competing in the Crappie Masters Championship Tournament on September 28 and 29. First place winners at the two-day event were two 21 year olds, Matthew Rogers and Baylor Mead, who won $34,100 in cash. This amount included a $2,000 bonus for using E10 fuel in their boat from Missouri Corn and American Ethanol. Their total fish weight was 21.19 pounds. Coming in second in the tournament were Mark and Aaron Engelhart, with a total fish weight of 20.90 pounds; and in third place were Kyler and Shannon Beckman with 20.27 pounds of crappie.
The thrill of competitive fishing appeals to a growing number of fishermen in the country.  Bass Pro Shops Crappie Masters is the nation’s premier crappie fishing tournament trail.  Their goal is to provide competitive crappie fishing tournaments for everyone, where grass root anglers, weekend anglers, competitive anglers, and families can enjoy and compete for great prizes.  
During the tournament at Bucksaw Resort and Marina, there was also a Kids Fishing and Education segment. Three children from ages 13 to 15, and three from ages 10 to 12 competed and fished with top teams from the 2018 National Championship at the same time as the Media guests were fishing. $1,000 college scholarships were won by youth with the largest weight fish and their awards will be made when they graduate from high school and enter college or trade school.
Sponsors and hosts of the Championship Tournament included the Clinton Chamber of Commerce, Benton County Tourism and Recreation, Missouri Corn Growers Association, Everhart’s Outdoor Store, and Bucksaw Resort and Marina.